Goa is the best alternative to the mountains for anyone looking for adventure or an adrenaline rush in India. The options for adventure travel in Goa are plentiful! They include water sports, go-karting, scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking, fishing, cycling, dolphin and crocodile spotting trips, bungee jumping, and hot air ballooning. Here's an overview what's available.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Goa has some noteworthy scuba diving sites around Grand Island, including Suzy’s Wreck, Davy Jones Locker, Shelter Cove, Umma Gumma Reef, and Bounty Bay. The best months are from November to April.
Highly-regarded Barracuda Diving at Baga Beach runs certified scuba diving courses, as well as snorkeling and scuba diving trips. Other recommended dive centers are Goa Diving at Bogmalo Beach near the airport, and Dive Goa at Candolim.
For snorkeling in Goa, you can take a day trip to Grand Island, such as this one offered by Atlantis Watersports. However, people often report that it's not worth it as there's little to see, and the island gets crowded with other tour boats at times. Tarkarli, just over the border in Maharashtra, is a much better alternative for snorkeling.
From initially only being available at five-star hotels, water sports now happen at beaches all over Goa. You can choose from parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, wake boarding, kite surfing, windsurfing, catamaran sailing, and banana rides. Prices vary according to duration but you can expect to pay around 1,000 rupees upwards per person for parasailing, 800 rupees for jet skiing, 600 rupees for a speedboat ride, and 300 rupees for a banana ride.
One of the biggest operators is Atlantis Water Sports on Calangute Beach. Their popular two hour water sports package costs 1,999 rupees per person. They also offer numerous sightseeing trips that can be booked online.
White Water Rafting and Kayaking
White water rafting trips take place daily down the Mhadei River during the monsoon season from July to September. They're organized by Goa Tourism in conjunction with Goa Rafting. The meeting point is at Valpoi, around an hour and a half inland (east) of Panjim
It's also possible to go on daily kayaking trips throughout the year, as well as more adventurous multi-day kayaking expeditions and safaris. More information is available from Goa Kayaking.
For an immersive, eco-friendly exploration of Goa's mangrove forests, choose from this Backwater Kayaking Trail offered by Terra Conscious or in-land boat and kayak trip offered by Konkan Explorers. Boating and kayak trips out to sea are another option offered by Konkan Explorers.
Goa-Fishing, based in Dona Paula, is operated by a licensed commercial/sports fisherman and conducts a range of more expensive trips for serious fishers. These include fishing on the shore, full day deep sea fishing expeditions, and spear fishing off the reefs of Grand Island and Bat Island.
If you want to catch fish and then have them expertly cooked the Goan way while you watch, check out this Happiness on a Hook trip from Breakaway.
Dolphin and Crocodile Sightseeing Tours
Dolphin (and crocodile!) spotting is a common tourist activity in Goa. The best time is from October until May, while the weather is dry and it's not monsoon season. In North Goa, most organized dolphin-watching trips take place daily around the mouth of the Mandovi River near Panjim. The main starting points are Coco Beach, Miramar, and Sinquerim in North Goa. However, you'll find tours operating from most beaches in Goa. You'll also come across local boat owners who will take you out for a similar but less costly experience.
An important thing to consider is how ethical these tours are. Research has found that unregulated tourism is threatening the dolphins, who get stressed and change their behavior when approached by intrusive tour boats. Some tour companies have a "no pay" policy if dolphins aren't sighted but this puts pressure on boat operators to chase the dolphins. In addition, only a small percentage of dolphin-watching tours provide guests with information about the dolphins.
Terra Conscious conducts an eco-friendly four-hour Ocean Biodiversity Experience that explores the river mouth and marine habitat along Ashwem and Morjim in North Goa, where dolphins may be seen. The trips are led by a conservation professional, include a presentation on dolphins and marine life in Goa, and are conducted in accordance with international dolphin watching guidelines.
Or, join Terra Conscious on their short 3-hour Backyard Cycling Trail through a private forest.
Hiking, Trekking and Canyoning
October to December is the perfect time to enjoy Goa's greenery and waterfalls post-monsoon. Goa Jungle Adventure, founded by two experienced French guides, organizes trekking and canyoning trips from Palolem. These trips are suitable for beginners to experts.
Alternatively, the relaxing Forest Walk by Terra Conscious is less strenuous.
Khoj-aao Adventures curates off-beat trekking, overnight camping and guided nature trails through the hinterland of Goa.
The Goa Hiking Association in Panjim also has a major trekking program. The Goa Branch of the Youth Hostel Association of India runs Trekking Expeditions and Family Camping trips in Goa as well, including during the monsoon season.
Some recommended places to trek and hike to include the Sahyadri Hills, Devils Canyon and the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in Mollem, the Chandrasurya Temple in Netravali (2 hours south of Panjim), and the Kuveshi Falls to Castle Rock just over the border in Karnataka state.
There are more than 250 varieties of birds in and around Goa's Western Ghat mountains. Backwoods Camp, situated in the forest near Mollem National Park and Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, is run by birders for birders. It conducts three guided walks per day.
Mrugaya Xpeditions is a responsible travel company that specializes in half-day and full-day bird watching trips in Goa.
Award-winning wildlife enthusiast Rahul Alvares will take you to unexplored destinations in Goa, which other tour companies don't cover, on his bespoke bird watching and nature tours.
Go-karting is the latest craze in Goa. The best place for go-karting is located on the Panjim-Margao Highway at Nuvem, in South Goa. The track there is almost 500 meters long (0.3 miles), with lots of twists. Average speeds of 70 kilometers per hour (44 miles per hour) are common.
The other go-karting track in Goa is at Arpora, just north of Baga and Calangue Beaches in North Goa, near Ingo's night market. The track there is only just over 300 meters (0.2 miles) long, and it’s a much easier course. It’s open until 10 p.m.
Tiger Balloon Safaris conducts one-hour hot air balloon flights, departing from Chandor in South Goa, in conjunction with Goa Tourism. The cost per person is $190 for foreigners and 11,000 rupees for Indians.
Goa's first fixed-form bungee jumping platform is situated at Mayem Lake in North Goa, 35 minutes from Baga Beach. You'll get to jump from a height of 55 meters. The cost is 4,110 rupees, and it includes a video.
If you're a group of family or friends that's looking for a big adrenaline rush, you can get a glimpse of military life on the battlefield by playing Milsim (short for Military Simulation). Tactical paintball guns, obstacles and barriers, mission plans, and warfare games make it as realistic as it gets! Milsim is located in Nuvem, in South Goa.